In 2020, Apple has outlined a clear priority for its development – the transfer of all computers produced by the company to its own chips. The first participants in the updated strategy were the MacBook Air, Mac Mini and 13-inch MacBook Pro, introduced in November 2020. The last device has become a kind of experiment.
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Obviously, the new chip will take time to prove its worth to professional users. MacBook Pro users want proven, powerful work solutions. But in October 2021, Apple introduced two MacBook Pro models with screen sizes of 14 and 16 inches based on the new M1 processors (M1 Pro and M1 Max). The sixth generation MacBook Pro not only received Apple Silicon processors, but became a kind of work on bugs – many user comments regarding the previous generation of laptops were eliminated. That being said, Apple has traditionally not been afraid to experiment, so the 2021 MacBook Pro has become a very interesting model, perhaps the most important update in many years.
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2021 MacBook Pro design and display
The shape of the case has changed slightly. Now the design of the computer is a bit like the very first MacBook Pros, released from 2008 to 2012.
The laptop is a fairly thin device in an aluminum case with a fixed thickness, without any nubs. There is a cutout on the front of the case for easy opening of the top cover. The left side is given to Thunderbolt 4 (USB ‑ C) ports, HDMI and SDXC card reader. On the right side, there are a couple of Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, a MagSafe 3 charging connector and a headphone output. There are four legs on the bottom that give the laptop stability.
But the dimensions of the device:
- MacBook Pro 14: 1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm, weight 1.61 kg.
- MacBook Pro 16: 1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm, weight 2.17 kg.
Laptop screen sizes have also changed. The MacBook Pro line now comes in either 14.2-inch or 16.2-inch screens.
The display case is only 4mm thick. The frames became noticeably narrower, but at the same time a cutout for the front camera appeared on the top of the screen. The same fringe is found in the iPhone. On the one hand, it is possible to note the adherence to the uniform style of the top Apple products. On the other hand, in the iPhone, the notch already seems an anachronism, although it serves to accommodate the Face ID system. But it simply does not exist in the MacBook Pro.… Obviously macOS will play around with this cutout. The developers have already figured out that all programs running in full screen mode will hide this element. The black border and the same fill will hide the bangs. In the meantime, it remains a noticeable design element, such as in no MacBook before.
The Liquid Retina XDR display itself has a resolution of 3024 x 1964 pixels (254 ppi) for the 14.2-inch model and 3456 x 2234 pixels (254 ppi) for the 16.2-inch model.
The MacBook Pro screen has traditionally been considered uncompromising. Display has XDR extreme dynamic range, brightness reaches 1000 cd / m22 throughout the entire space, and in peak mode rises to 1600 cd / m22… The contrast is 1,000,000: 1. The display can show up to 1 billion colors, has a wide P3 color gamut and support for True Tone technology to adjust the white balance to the environment. 10,000 mini-LED diodes are responsible for the backlight. Each display is calibrated at the factory to reproduce all colors, details in dark areas as clearly as possible. This is why professionals traditionally value the quality of the MacBook Pro display.
The laptop works with ProMotion technology, which adaptively increases the screen refresh rate to 120 Hz. In this case, the constant refresh rate can be as follows: 47.95 Hz, 48.00 Hz, 50.00 Hz, 59.94 Hz, 60.00 Hz. You will need this when editing a video. ProMotion will allow you to scroll as smoothly as possible and display sharp movements in games. By adjusting to the operating scenario, a lower power consumption is ensured by lowering the frequency.
Traditionally, Apple has offered the MacBook Pro in two colors: traditional silver and space gray.
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2021 MacBook Pro keyboard and trackpad. Opting out of TouchBar
In 2015, Apple began methodically introducing a new butterfly keyboard design into its laptops. Outwardly, everything seemed very impressive, but not everyone was able to get used to the new keys, and they regularly broke. This issue has affected several generations of MacBooks. Finally, the manufacturer reluctantly acknowledged the failure of the solution and returned to the cool and proven scissor mechanism. In the MacBook Pro, it reappeared in the 2020 generation, remaining, as is logical, in the 2021 models.
Another important innovation is the rejection of the TouchBar. She was never able to win the love of users, being considered by many to be a clearly superfluous element. Instead of a TouchBar, MacBook Pro now has a full array of mechanical function keys. With their help, you can quickly activate Spotlight search, Siri, function “Do not disturb”… It is worth noting the appearance of a relief ring on the Touch ID key, which will help to precisely position the finger in the right place.
Speaking about the keys themselves, here we can note a return to the proven classics: a separate Esc key, a block of keys in the form of an inverted letter “T”, a large “Enter” button. Another change is also interesting – the underlay under the keyboard has become black. It is quite stylish and quite in the spirit of the professional. There are 79 keys in total for the ISO standard or 78 for the American layout. The Magic Keyboard is backlit and has a light sensor.
The trackpad hasn’t received any significant changes. This panel is already considered a reference panel for laptops, and there have never been any complaints about it. The pad is quite large, it supports Force Touch technology, responding to the force of the touch for more precise cursor control. In addition, the trackpad recognizes multi-touch gestures, implementing additional system control capabilities with their help.
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2021 MacBook Pro hardware
This is where the 2021 MacBook Pro’s progress is particularly noticeable. This series has finally moved from Intel processors to Apple solutions. Especially for the notebook line, two new systems on a chip have been created that maximize the potential of professional devices.
The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips (detailed review) are improved solutions within the already announced M1 architecture. Both chips are made using 5-nanometer technology and received more cores in the central and graphic processor, more combined memory than in the M1. The main advantage of such a system is the layout of the main systems on a single chip, which avoids the transmission of processed data through slow interfaces. All components access memory directly, allowing the system to run clearly faster and more efficiently.
The central processor of the M1 Pro chip has up to 10 cores (8 cores are productive, and 2 are energy efficient), and the graphics processor has 16 cores. The Neural Engine has 16 cores. The chip can work with 32GB of pooled memory, and its bandwidth reaches 200GB / s. It is possible to connect two monitors.
The M1 Max chip turned out to be even more powerful. It still has the same 10 cores of the central processor, but the graphics processor has already received 32 cores. The Neural Engine system calculates data with its 16 cores. At the same time, the M1 Max chip supports up to 64 GB of combined memory, and its bandwidth reaches 400 GB / s. Four monitors can be connected to a laptop with this chip.
This architecture demonstrates excellent performance with minimal energy consumption. As a result, at its peak, the M1 Pro and M1 Max CPUs outperform 8-core AMD / Intel-based laptops of comparable power by 70%. If they show the same performance, then the MacBook Pro uses 70% less power.
The M1 Pro chip Apple offers to compare with discrete solutions of PC laptops. Those with comparable performance consume 70% more energy.
But the M1 Max is already being compared with powerful discrete processors. Apple’s solution at the same level of performance consumes 40% less energy, and when compared with the most powerful laptops, the difference can be up to 100 watts.
It is worth noting the emergence of a dedicated media processor that specializes in processing ProRes graphics and HEVC / H.264 files. In the M1 Pro it is one, and in the M1 Max there are two of them at once. This allows you to double the speed of video encoding, the laptop with the M1 Pro can handle up to 20 streams of 4K video in ProRes format, and the M1 Max will allow you to work with 7 streams of 8K ProRes video.
Compared to MacBook Pros running on Intel Core i7 / i9 processors, the speed of project building in Xcode / Logic Pro / Vectorworks has increased 2-4 times. The performance of the GPU in processing objects with vector and raster graphics in various professional packages has increased by 2-5 times.
The M1 Pro chip delivers 4.5 teraflops and the M1 Max 10.4 teraflops, while the M1 ceiling is only 2.6 teraflops. The top-end MacBook Pro 16 almost matches the graphics performance of the Sony PS5 at 10.28 teraflops. Of course, this laptop is not intended for gaming, but the graphics performance is clearly high.
In the base version, the MacBook Pro 14 will get 16 GB of RAM, while the MacBook Pro 16 will already have 16 or 32 GB of RAM. 512GB or 1TB SSD available. Configurable with 64GB of storage and 2TB, 4TB or 8TB SSD. The top variant of the MacBook Pro 16 with an M1 Max chip will receive 64 GB of memory and an 8 TB SSD. The read speed of data from the drive reaches 7.4 GB / s, which is double that of the previous generation.
Testing the 2021 MacBook Pro (M1 Max) using Geekbench 5, the device scored 1,749 points in the single-core test and 11,542 points in the multi-core test.
The single-core test result is almost identical to last year’s and less powerful MacBook Pro Apple M1, but in multi-core the closest analogue is Mac Pro (2019) on a 12-core Intel Xeon W-3235. The screenshots below show where the 2021 MacBook Pro with the Apple M1 Max chip is located.
Single core test
MacBook Pro 2021 is compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax standard and is compliant with IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac standards. Bluetooth 5.0 support is no surprise, it has been around for years.
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The autonomy of the 2021 MacBook Pro
The autonomy of MacBook Pro is the pride of this line, which has always been equal to other manufacturers. Switching to economical Apple chips has made a real miracle. Now the 14-inch model can play video for up to 17 hours, and surf the Internet via Wi-Fi for up to 11 hours. The 16-inch model can play videos for up to 21 hours and surf the Internet for up to 14 hours. At the same time, even when disconnected from the outlet, the MacBook Pro does not lose in its performance.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro has a 70Whr Li-Polymer battery, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 100Whr battery.
Depending on the version of the laptop, a 67W, 96W power adapter (for a 14-inch MacBook Pro) or even a 140W power adapter (for a 16-inch MacBook Pro) is included in the package. Only the last two options allow fast charging of the laptop… It will take only half an hour to replenish half of the battery capacity.
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Camera and ports in the 2021 MacBook Pro
The appearance of the notch in the screen is justified by the placement of a new camera there. Now it has finally got 1080p resolution. The aperture also increased in the camera to capture more light. MacBook Pro video calls are now even clearer, especially in low light. The new special processor, which uses intelligent signal processing algorithms, also contributes to the improvement of the image quality.
6 years later, Apple has brought back popular interfaces such as HDMI, SD card slot and MagSafe power connector to the MacBook Pro.
The laptop now has four high-speed universal Thunderbolt 4 (USB / C) ports. You can also charge your MacBook through them, but their main purpose is to connect peripherals and high-speed data transfer. The SDXC card slot is also back, making it easier and faster to transfer photos and videos from professional devices. The HDMI port will allow you to connect TVs and other video output devices, and the 3.5mm output will allow you to connect headphones, moreover, adjusting the audio output parameters when high impedance is detected. Finally, the handy MagSafe 3 power connector has been returned, allowing you to quickly magnetise the power cable to your laptop.
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Sound (Speakers and Microphones) 2021 MacBook Pro
Despite its compact size, MacBook Pro has a powerful, high-quality audio system. There are six speakers installed at once. Four of them are low-frequency and suppress resonance. They significantly expand the sound range, reproducing 80% more bass than the previous model. And a pair of tweeters accurately capture vocals. The system works with the Dolby Atmos format, allowing you to recreate spatial audio and truly surround sound. Spatial Audio can track head position when using 3rd generation AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.
The MacBook Pro has three studio-grade microphones. They have a reduced noise floor, capturing even very quiet sounds. A system of three directional microphones makes the voice loud and clear when recording.
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2021 MacBook Pro Tech Specs
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MacBook Pro and the environment
Apple is committed to minimizing environmental impact when launching the MacBook Pro. No hazardous chemicals or substances are used in the manufacture of the notebook. Even the packaging uses wood fiber from sustainably managed farms. The speakers, fan drive, and power cable connector contain magnets made from recycled rare earth materials. MacBook factories do not bury waste and are gradually moving towards renewable energy sources.
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2021 MacBook Pro Bundle (What’s in the Box)
The kit includes the MacBook Pro itself, a USB-C power adapter to it (its power depends on the chosen model and chip, for example, for 14-inch – 67 or 96 W, and for all 16-inch laptops it is a 140 W unit), and a 2 meter USB-C / MagSafe 3 cable.
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2021 MacBook Pro pricing
The 14-inch model is offered in two basic versions:
- Based on the M1 Pro, with an 8-core processor, a 14-core GPU, 16 GB of combined memory and a 512 GB SSD drive, a 67 W power supply – 189,990 rubles.
- Based on the M1 Pro, with a 10-core processor, a 16-core GPU, 16 GB of combined memory and a 1 TB SSD, a 96 W PSU – 234,990 rubles.
But the 16-inch model has three basic options:
- Based on the M1 Pro, with a 10-core processor, a 16-core GPU, 16 GB of combined memory and a 512 GB SSD, a 140 W PSU – 234,990 rubles.
- Based on the M1 Pro, with a 10-core processor, a 16-core GPU, 16 GB of combined memory and a 1 TB SSD, a 140 W PSU – 254,990 rubles.
- Based on the M1 Max, with a 10-core processor, a 32-core GPU, 32 GB of combined memory and a 1 TB SSD, a 140 W PSU – 334,990 rubles.